Our holiday in Portugal 













            We stayed, as we did in 1997, in a small villa in the Cerro Grande area of Albufeira.  The Villa Solmar is within easy walking distance of the old centre of Albufeira.  This means that Roger didn’t have to drive all the time, particularly welcome in the evening, when a good meal is improved by a bottle of wine.


            However, we avoided the crowded town beach during the day and usually drove the short distance to the extensive sands of Gale, part way between Albufeira and Armacao de Pera.



          Roger made his usual series of sandcastles, which still turned heads, I may say.  Here he is with one of them.




          Our hire car this year was a Daewoo Matiz in silver grey – this year’s fashion colour.  Apart from tootling down to the beach, this enabled us to make a few expeditions – but not many, because sitting in a hot car (or even an air-conditioned car) during July does not seem to us the ideal way of enjoying ourselves.  Of interest, were the springs at Alte, which perhaps deserve to be better known, because there seemed to be few foreign visitors there.  In a leafy glade, there are a series of bathing and picnic areas, and some Roman remains.  Relief from the hot sun, if you remember to take your swimming costume.


            As at most villas, there was a pile of books, both racy and not-so-racy, left by previous occupants.  Teresa donated a few more and hopefully left her e-mail address in them. 





Holiday Hints


We have been going to the Algarve for some time now, and some of the tips we would pass on are:






We have had no problems at the last villa we stayed at:  it was urban and close to the sea, though there was waste ground opposite.  However, we have suffered in the past, particularly at inland villas in the middle of the sticks.  But the advice is clear:  buy a good spray – the local Dum-Dum is very effective – ON THE FIRST DAY.  Day Two may be too late.  If the little beasts are plenteous and persistent, it may be worth buying a deterrent plug.





The Portuguese attitudes to dogs are different from the British.  Dogs are forbidden on the beaches.  So, though you can’t discount the odd stray, generally the beaches are free of any problems dogs might bring, or leave behind.  However, dogs are also allowed to roam the streets, particularly in the evening, and at street restaurants you could be harassed by animals looking for food.  If you would rather avoid this, seek out restaurants where access is controlled – for example, on terraces, roof gardens or even indoors.



Money Changing


For some reason, long queues form at the banks, particularly on Monday mornings – but service is slow, rates poor and commission is charged.  Avoid them.  We take travellers’ cheques and use the specialist bureaux de change, which are plentiful in the town centres, have competitive rates and charge no commission.  Although you will want to arrive in country with some local currency, also bear in mind that you will get far better rates for the pound in Portugal than you will in the UK before you leave.





You will always bring back far more than you take out.  We have started to pack an empty holdall type bag in our luggage on the way out to provide the extra space on the way back.


On the other hand, it is easy to over-estimate what you need to take in the first place:  dress is informal virtually everywhere;  the weather is predictable – ie hot – and drying clothes in the sun takes only a couple of hours.  You could easily keep a couple of outfits going for the whole of the holiday.  But don’t forget, this is the Atlantic coast and take a thick sweater – you may not need it, but it could just turn chilly at night.



Fun Parks


There are several water slide parks, mostly on the N125 Faro to Lagos road.  If you have a car, it’s worth considering going independently of the organised tours.  For one thing, there is not a lot of shade at these places, and for us Brits this can easily lead to too much exposure and sunburn.  We usually leave a visit till towards the end of the holiday when our resistance is greater.  Also to be considered is arriving after lunch:  a discount is available after a certain time, not huge but worth having, and you are still left with a good 4 or 5 hours in the park in high season – possibly as much sun as you would want anyway, and avoiding the hottest part of the day.







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Last amended on 10 November 2000.